Sermons



Rev. Andrew Cunnington
23rd May 2021
Missionary Highways

Can any of you here boast that you have a street actually named after you?

Now our Curate Judith Brooks might say that one of the YMCA buildings where she works is Brook Road – or our Reader Julie Knight might advance the case for Knight’s Place – just round the back of the railway station.

But, heigh ho, these are common names in common places!

Whilst for me – I am proud to tell you of the existence of Cunnington Way and mark this, it is to be found in Oakham in Rutland, where my family actually come from and where my Grandfather was born.

We have an old photograph of me and my daughters standing proudly beside the name plate – for some reason my wife Alison was happier taking the photo rather than being in the picture, I can’t understand why, can you?

Anyway…

Today is the birthday of the church, the day of Pentecost. Everything we claim to be kicks off from here. From twelve disciples cowering in an upper room to finding themselves scattered to all corners of the known world, because on this day, they were filled with the fullness of God until they were literally fit to bursting.

From this day on, in Acts, we read of how they witnessed to all sorts of people in all sorts of places as they trod the roads and tracks that were set before them, and then eventually this great faith of ours found a focus in Rome and from there, you might say, great missionary highways were formed, along which churches and monasteries and cathedrals became established, until one day, one of those great highways of mission came to England.

Interestingly when those first missionaries got here, they discovered little byways of faith that had already become rooted. Pagan rituals having traces already of a faith we would recognise – as if someone had been there before the likes of Gregory, Augustine and the others.

As the mission developed in this land the great highways became a network of lanes as individuals and tiny country communities became early beacons of the light of Christ, building on what had been there before.

And from this emerged the system of parishes and Dioceses which we have today. Church historians among you may say, well, it wasn’t quite as simple as that – but the point is that the events of this first Pentecost morning, can be seen as the reason we are here today. We are the consequences of that great outpouring!

There is a danger that the spectacular nature of this day, with the glorifying of God in every language under the sun, former fishermen rubbing shoulders with the intellectual elite, the extraordinary boldness of those who had hitherto been timid, wonderful conversions alongside dreadful persecutions might lead us to conclude that this has little to do with us in C21 Redhill.

Now these great missionary highways are still in existence. If you have ever pulled in for a coffee or a walk at the top of Reigate Hill, you are close to the Pilgrim Way where early followers walked to Canterbury.

We are physically on the mission track just outside our door, in fact we don’t even have to go up to Reigate Hill to be on our way, for as soon as we put the next foot in front of the other as we go from here, we form our own personal missionary path. We walk in the way of those first Pentecost Pilgrims.

Brooks Road, Knights Place and Cunnington Way. There is your own track too. Maybe no name plate visible. Maybe not marked on any map, but as soon as you step out – you are on it.

And in that we have some responsibility. Is our bearing at all times worthy of inheritors of Pentecost.

I marvel now at the freedom I had as a small boy in Worthing. I loved to go off round the streets riding my bike and I was perhaps seven years old and my Grandma used to look after me sometimes and she would say to me – you are not to cycle down Sackville Road or Carneigie Avenue, there’s pot holes everywhere and you’ll only fall off. And indeed those road and a few others were death traps for the budding cyclist only just off his stabilisers.

Why are they like that – I asked Grandma – its because they are unadopted she would say.

What does that mean I asked – well they don’t pay the council so no one does their roads. And I thought what terrible people must live in those houses, to be so mean as to not pay for their roads to be made up properly.

I didn’t understand about the concept of private roads in those days.

But Pentecost could be seen as allowing your personal track to be adopted.

Pentecost could be seen as inviting the Holy Spirit into your life afresh so that your lane be forged into and linked with this great unfolding network of missionary life – along which faithful followers have been pounding the way for 2000 years now.

Your track – not just when you come to church – becoming adopted as His Way, His Truth and His Life.

How would life look if you took that on.

The words of this hymn are my closing reflection


Fill thou my life, O Lord my God, in every part with praise
That my whole being may proclaim, thy being and thy way.

So shall no part of day nor night, unblest or common be
But all my life, in every step, be fellowship with thee

ACTS 2: 1-21
JOHN 15: 26-27, 16: 4B-15